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New Jersey Prison Guard Recruiting for KKK

State and federal authorities launched an investigation in 1996 to probe the extent of the Ku Klux Klan involvement at New Jersey's Bay State Prison. On June 5, 1996, the New Jersey DOC fired Wayne Keller, 45, who was described by a newspaper as a 'senior corrections officer," for soliciting other guards to join the Klan.

According to DOC documents cited by newspaper reporter Miles Jackson, Keller told DOC investigators that at least 40 prison guards at Bayside and Southern State Corrections Facility are members of the Klan.

Bob McHugh, a NJ DOC spokesperson, said those allegations were unsubstantiated. "There is no hard evidence at this point of Klan involvement beyond officer Keller, except for the other officer who said he was approached by Keller," said McHugh. "But it's a sad reality that in any organization, particularly one as large as ours, there is going to be inappropriate behavior."

Miriam F. Clark, an attorney for a group of black and female employees of the NJ DOC, said "inappropriate behavior" that evokes the name of the KKK is not rare.

In a 1993 complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the NJ DOC, several Klan-related incidents were identified. Clark said the complaint outlined several instances wherein Klan graffiti and photos of robed Klansmen had been posted in prominent places at state prisons.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the NJ DOC employees, resulted in a $3.7 million settlement by the state in 1996.

A report issued by the state Office of Inmate Advocacy highlighted that DOC employees are not the only targets of racist prison guards. The report revealed that guards at the East Jersey State Prison engaged in a pattern of assaults and torture of black prisoners over a long period of time.

The report also indicated that prison officials became so alarmed about guards wearing Confederate flags on their uniforms that a regulation prohibiting the practice was instituted.

Source: Unidentified NJ Newspaper [Keep those clippings coming, but please indicate the name and date of the newspaper.]

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